Beer-drinker? Ice-thrower? British correspondent has a more sobering take on Brett Kavanaugh

by WorldTribune Staff, October 3, 2018

Missing from most of the Brett Kavanaugh narratives over the past two stormy weeks has been his tenure as a team player on Independent Council Ken Starr’s investigation of former President Bill Clinton.

In his fiery statement in his own defense last Thursday, Kavanaugh suggested the motives for the all-out assault on his character by Senate Democrats and the Democrat Mainstream Media included “revenge on behalf of the Clintons”.

Brett Kavanaugh sits behind Kenneth Starr during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the possible impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998. / Getty Images

“It was Kavanaugh who pushed Starr to ask Clinton, in graphic detail, about the nature of his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky,” according to an AP report as a blizzard of other, unconfirmed reports on the nominee’s beer-drinking and ice-throwing exploits flooded the media.

“In a memo from 1998, Kavanaugh wrote that Starr should ask Clinton whether he engaged in phone sex and specific sexual acts with her. Starr took Kavanaugh’s advice. His resulting report ultimately presented evidence that Clinton, in denying the affair, lied under oath. The report became the grounds for Clinton’s impeachment.”

Two reporters, one American and one British, wrote about the scandal and its outcome in a different light. The Starr investigation was seen as participating in a U.S. Government coverup of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster which was officially ruled a suicide.

Both are now reluctant to revisit the Foster story which Evans-Pritchard referred to as the “electric third rail” of American politics.

While serving as the Sunday Telegraph’s Washington Bureau Chief, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard recounted how he “crossed swords with a younger Brett Kavanaugh in one of the weirdest and most disturbing episodes” of his career as a journalist.

Chris Ruddy, then with the New York Post and now CEO of Newsmax, also reported extensively on the matter and wrote the book, “The Mysterious Death of Vince Foster.”

The “episode” Evans-Pritchard spoke of “has suddenly become a second front” in Kavanaugh’s nomination saga. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has accused Kavanaugh of violating secrecy laws by revealing the details of a federal grand jury.

“Disclosing grand jury information is against the law,” she told Politico. She said it also showed he had misled the Senate by assuring categorically that he had never leaked grand jury material to journalists.

Feinstein released a document from the archive files of the Starr investigation which, Evans-Pritchard wrote, “shows Kavanaugh’s efforts to suppress a news story about his wild cross-examination of a witness, including a wayward discussion of ‘genitalia’ that particularly worried him.”

Evans-Pritchard noted that he was named in the document and the witness named – Patrick Knowlton – “was in a sense ‘my witness.’ ”

Knowlton, who had been called to the grand jury because of a story in the Telegraph, “was a crime scene witness in the death of Vincent Foster, the White House aide and ex-law partner of Hillary Clinton. At the time this was a mystery case, a big story during my tenure as the Sunday Telegraph’s bureau chief in Washington,” Evans-Pritchard wrote.

“I had tracked down Mr. Knowlton and discovered that the Starr probe had never spoken to him, even though he had been the first person at the Fort Marcy death location and had highly-relevant information.”

Evans-Pritchard said he showed Knowlton his FBI “302” witness statement from “the earlier, superficial Fiske probe. He had never seen the words attributed to him before.”

Knowlton “was stunned,” Evans-Pritchard wrote. “It contradicted his express assertions. He said the FBI had tried repeatedly to badger him into changing his story on key facts. Each time he refused. Now it appeared they had written in what they wanted to hear. He agreed to go public and accused the FBI of falsifying his witness statement. This was to court trouble.”

After the Telegraph story ran, the Starr investigation subpoenaed Knowlton to face questioning by Kavanaugh.

Before he testified, Knowlton “suffered two days of what appeared to be systematic intimidation by a large surveillance team,” Evans-Pritchard wrote. “This was observed by two other witnesses, including Chris Ruddy.”

Ruddy “called me in shock from Dupont Circle to recount what he saw,” Evans-Pritchard wrote. “A deeply-shaken Knowlton contacted me from his home several times, until his phone was cut off.”

Evans-Pritchard continued: “Veteran intelligence agents might recognize a method. It had the hallmarks of a boilerplate softening-up operation. In my view – unprovable – the objective was to frighten him before his grand jury appearance. It smacked of police state behaviour on the streets of Washington, D.C.

“I informed Mr. Starr’s office that their grand jury witness was being intimidated. So did Mr. Knowlton’s lawyer, who asked for witness protection. Nothing was done. Mr. Kavanaugh brushed it off, saying the Telegraph was behind all this mischief in order to ‘sell newspapers.’

“When Mr. Knowlton appeared at the grand jury – thinking he was doing his civic duty – he says he was subjected to two and a half hours of character assassination by Mr. Kavanaugh. There was little attempt to find out what he knew about the Foster death scene.”

Knowlton and his lawyer “later filed a federal lawsuit against FBI agents he claimed were working for Kavanaugh, alleging witness tampering and a conspiracy to violate his civil rights,” Evans-Pritchard wrote. “This eventually reached the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The quixotic case was impossible to prove. Yet it was the action of a man who clearly felt wronged. To this day he blames Mr. Kavanaugh personally.”

As thousands of documents from the Starr probe are still secret and others are redacted, Evans-Pritchard notes “It is impossible to know whether Mr. Kavanaugh was linked to any intimidation or obstruction of justice, but there is no doubt in my mind that he failed to protect the rights of his own grand jury witness.”

Kavanaugh went on to write the Starr Report on the Foster death. Knowlton, however, “got the last word, literally,” Evans-Pritchard wrote. “He filed a 511-page report at the U.S. Federal Court with evidence alleging a pattern of skullduggery,” and asked that it be attached to the Starr Report.

“The three top judges did not agree but they ordered that a shorter 20-page version be attached at the end, despite vehement protest from the Starr office,” Evans-Pritchard noted. “This had never happened before in the history of the office of the independent council.”

The 20-page summary asserts that the FBI had “concealed the true facts,” that there had been witness tampering, and that the report had ignored facts that refuted its own conclusions.

“There it sits in perpetuity, a strange rebuke for Mr. Kavanaugh by his own fellow judges on the federal bench,” Evans-Pritchard wrote.

Contacted about the story, Ruddy, who authored “The Strange Death of Vincent Foster”, called it interesting. “It conflates different things here.” He said his interaction with Kavanaugh had been limited to phone calls.

Ruddy’s book concludes with the following sentence about Fort Marcy Park:

“With the ‘investigations’ of the Park Police, the FBI, Fiske, and Starr, this tiny square of land may yet become the symbol of a cover-up conducted by people who have, with the help of the press, placed themselves above the law.”

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